Time-course experiments with microarrays are often used to study
dynamic biological systems and genetic regulatory networks (GRNs) that model how genes influence each other in cell-level development of organisms. The inference for GRNs provides important insights into the fundamental biological processes such as growth and is useful in disease diagnosis and genomic drug design. Due to the experimental design, multilevel data hierarchies are often present in time-course gene expression data. Most existing methods, however, ignore the
dependency of the expression measurements over time and the correlation among gene expression profiles. Such independence assumptions violate regulatory interactions and can result in overlooking certain important subject effects and lead to spurious inference for regulatory networks or mechanisms. In this paper, a multilevel mixed-effects model is adopted to incorporate data hierarchies in the analysis of time-course data, where temporal and subject effects are both assumed to be random. The method starts with the clustering of genes by fitting the mixture model within the multilevel random-effects model framework using the expectation-maximization (EM) algorithm. The network of regulatory
interactions is then determined by searching for regulatory control
elements (activators and inhibitors) shared by the clusters of co-expressed genes, based on a time-lagged correlation coefficients measurement. The method is applied to two real time-course datasets from the budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) genome. It is shown that the proposed method provides clusters of cell-cycle regulated genes that are supported by existing gene function annotations, and hence enables inference on regulatory interactions for the genetic network.